Tom Cruise had a line in a 33-year-old movie (Days of Thunder) that stuck with me. In the movie he was at his lowest point in his racing career, and he told the person he was taking to (Nicole Kidman) that he must get back in the race car because, “you’ve got to be good at your job before you can enjoy the rest of your life.”
Think about this quote and see if it rings true or not. This is primarily a guy thing and may or may not necessarily be true for ladies. For a man, so much of who he is, is wrapped up in what he does. If you look at the happiest retired men, you will find a commonality that they were good at their job before they retired. It doesn’t matter what the job was. What does matter is, how they did it.
One of the happiest retired men I knew was my lake house next-door neighbor who passed away at the end of last year. He was 89 when he passed away and before he retired, he was the chief pilot for Coca-Cola for 25 years. Before that he was an Air Force Pilot back when they used to fly around with live nuclear weapons on board in case they were called into action. Think about what a stressful job that must have been. Before his death, he was very engaged in life and his happiness came in large part from his family and because he was fulfilled in his job before he retired.
I have friends that were in all manner of work from a garbage company, hotels, retail development to doctors. If asked, they would all tell you that one key to moving on to a happy life is being fulfilled and doing well in their work. As a contrast, I know one gentleman that retired from his work having done as little as he could get by with and never really giving his best. He simply put in his time and retired but it left a big hole in him that was never filled. Therefore, his retirement years were not happy and fulfilled because deep within himself, he knows he didn’t do his best.
If we think about it, we all know this is true. We all know someone who has moved from one job to another hoping the next job will be better. It is like the old saying “wherever I go, there I am.” I think as you age, it becomes more important to finish well. Doing so, helps you handle your emotions when you don’t get the job, promotion or the sale. If you know you did your best, that is all you can do.
The hardest working person I ever met was my father in-law, Max Phillips. He owned a fence company for decades and he worked harder than any man I have ever known. Looking from the sidelines, it seemed when he retired, the transition was easy for him. I believe that was in large part, because he was good at his job and did it so well for so many years. I believe he was fulfilled in that part of his life and that helped him enjoy the rest of his life. KT